Benefits / Resources / Articles
October 20, 2021

Copyright Update –Notice of Latest Public Rulemaking

The Copyright Office released its most recent Notice of Public Rulemaking, proposing a flat fee of $100 to access the small claims system even if the alleged infringer opts out of the proceeding. This would likely be cost-prohibitive to photographers and deter participation in the small claims system.

As you may remember, alleged infringers may opt-out of the small claims court in favor of a federal proceeding. We are urging the Copyright Office to split the required $100 filing fee into a smaller fee (for example, $25) for filing the claim and a larger fee (for example, $75) until the alleged infringer does not opt-out and the case becomes “active.” Despite our proposal with the Copyright Alliance, the Copyright Office insists it cannot split the fee and plans to charge everyone $100 from the start. This means that if the alleged infringer opts out, the photographer/copyright owner who filed the claim would forfeit $100 and receive nothing in return.

We believe this rule will significantly deter participation in the new small claims court. However, with our suggested split fee approach, a photographer/copyright owner might only lose $25 should the other party opt-out.

We need your help!

Submit a short comment to the Copyright Office in support of our proposal. Your voice helps ensure the copyright small claims proceedings are not cost-prohibitive to photographers. Comments are due by November 30,  2021, and must be submitted according to the Copyright Office’s instructions.  

What should my comment include?

The main ideas to include are:

  • The drawbacks of a flat $100/claim filing fee to you as an individual creator/copyright owner
  • The unlikelihood of your use of the new copyright small claims court if the flat fee structure is in place
  • The benefits to you as an individual creator/copyright owner of an alternative tiered fee structure, where claimants would pay a smaller fee to file a claim and then a larger fee once the other party does not opt-out and the case becomes active.

Here is a sample letter to use as guidance. Please feel free to use and edit/personalize the sample language in your own words. Click here to submit your comment to the Copyright Office.